Get tested to protect sports nutrition category, says Ultimate

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sports nutrition, Nutrition

Ultimate Nutrition, one of the sports nutrition manufacturers whose
products were tested under the Natural Products Association's
TruLabel program, has thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the
industry to have products tested to prove they are
contaminant-free.

The dietary supplements industry has come under tremendous fire in recent years as a number of sportspeople who have tested positive for banned substances claim they must have ingested them as a result of contaminated supplements. The respectable side of the industry has countered with repeated assurances that supplements are safe - and that supplements could be a convenient scapegoat to disguise other causes of positive tests. "Dietary supplements have become the scapegoat for failing drug tests,"​ Ultimate VP Brian Rubino said. "All responsible manufacturers of sports supplements should have proof that their products do not contain banned substances. This is an essential component in protecting the integrity of the product category." ​ With the emergence of tests to prove that products are safe, the industry is building a strong line of defense against allegations. NPA tested several sports nutrition products made by members of its TruLabel testing program for stimulant and anabolic steroidal contaminants. The products were purchased anonymously and tested in an independent third-party laboratory using gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry. None of the products tested (which included supplements made by The Vitamin Shoppe, Nature's Best, Jarrow Formula, Wellements, Vital Pharmaceuticals, Now Foods, Phytoceutical Formulations - as well as Ultimate Nutrition) were found to contain any banned substances. While the first round of tests included only members of the TruLabel program, NPA VP of scientific affairs Daniel Fabricant said that a second round is due to start this month, and this is open to non-members of the association. "We…encourage manufacturers who are not currently in good standing with TruLabel to participate. Interested companies should contact us now,"​ said Fabricant. At the moment the onus is on the manufacturer to have its products checked so it can assert low contamination risk; it goes without saying that if there are any companies that do not have the appropriate checks and balances in place, they would be unlikely to submit for testing. This means that programs such as TruLabel may not immediately be able to stamp out the problem - if, indeed, there is one. NPA is not planning to make its program and the results official. "We're not looking to get certified,"​ said Fabricant. However the more publicity there is for such testing methods, the more some kind of validation will come to be expected and standard - both at industry and consumer level. If this comes to pass, then the hope is that dodgy operators will be forced out of the market. Critics of the supplements industry say that contamination may occur when the same production line is used for products containing performance-enhancing substances and for wholly innocent supplements - even vitamins. While TruLabel tests finished products, NSF International last year introduced a service to help companies assert minimal risk for their products from an earlier stage in the process - during manufacturing itself. The program pinpointing products which should not be manufactured in the vicinity of products destined for sporting purposes. Two annual GMP for sport audits are required, as well as manufacturer affidavits showing it does not source any component contained on the banned substances list as identified by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the National Football League, the National Hockey League Players' Association and Major League Baseball, among others. Active ingredient supplier affidavits are also required, in addition to GMP compliance for the following processes: personnel issues, plant and grounds maintenance/sanitation, laboratory operations, sourcing and traceability, equipment design and maintenance, quality assurance issues, health claims, production/process controls and raw material traceability & sourcing. NSF's first GMP for sports nutrition was awarded last year to Century Foods International. Its second was awarded to National Enzyme Company. According to market analyst Datamonitor, spending on sports foods and drinks is presently outstripping the traditional supplements market. It says that consumer spending on sport food and beverages in the US grew by 6.7 percent between 2000 and 2005, to $3.1bn. Over the same time period, spending on sports supplements grew a modest 2.3 percent, to reach $621m.

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